Popcorn Flowers

Genus Plagiobothrys

popcorn flower

In the Forget-Me-Not family (Boraginaceae), the genus Plagiobothrys is referred to as the popcorn flower. There are more than 40 species of this genus in California alone, all difficult to distinguish one from another. This slender, hairy plant grows 6 to 20 inches high. It has spatula-shaped leaves up to 4 inches in length, most of which emerge from a basal tuft. Leaves higher on the stem are smaller.

popcorn flower

Cryptantha augustifolia, in the same family, is called the narrow-leaved popcorn flower. It has slender, narrow leaves up to 1-1/2 inches long.

Popcorn flowers are so-called because the coiled stems and tiny, open flowers of both genera are white and clustered at the top of the coil, looking like popcorn.

The flowers look like popcorn.


Mojave and Sonoran deserts throughout California, Arizona and and into northern Baja.


Open, sandy, gravely desert areas, especially near Creosote Bush, below 4,000 feet.


Small, white, 5-petaled, 1-inch flowers, grow in a coil at the end of branches. They bloom February through June.


Narrow-leaved Popcorn Flower
Narrow-leaved Popcorn Flower (Cryptantha augustifolia)

-- A.R Royo

More Wildflowers

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports

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